City Hall proposes slashing Moscow’s population by 2.5 million

Moscow authorities are considering returning the city’s population level to that of the 1970s, a drop of some 2.5 million people.

The proposal is part of Moscow’s “City Construction Strategy for 2012-2016,” which was unveiled days after the capital’s boundaries were more than doubled. The construction strategy focuses on possible options for developing the city within its new borders.

The proposal to relocate 2.5 million people is just one of a number of radical changes to be considered in the next five years.

Officials are proposing a ban on high-rise construction in the historic center of Moscow. The central district would be turned into a tourist zone in which only hotels could be built.

City Hall is also planning to unfold a vast historic reconstruction program that would recover and renovate many neglected historic sights.

Multistory apartment buildings would be built on the outskirts of the city. Within the city limits, only two and three-story townhouses would be constructed.

The strategy has yet to be approved by the Moscow government.

President Dmitry Medvedev first raised the idea of extending the capital’s boundaries at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in June.

The original idea behind the plan was to relocate the headquarters of state officials outside the capital. Medvedev believes that this could be a good way to decongest the capital’s overcrowded roads and to make the city more attractive to those working in the financial sector, thus turning it into an international financial center.

“Relocating government offices out of Moscow is one of the options we’re considering now,” Maksim Perov, vice president at the Union of Russian Architects, told RT. “It’s unclear how many workplaces will have to be transferred as a result, and in which spheres. This is a particularly difficult but also very important task – a challenge for the professional community. Our task now is to start the project with expert discussions or possibly an international contest, like the one that was held in Paris three years ago.”

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